Oakland students providing health services around the globe

Rachel Williams

On Dec. 16, 55 Oakland University students headed to Nicaragua as part of the Global Brigades-Medical team.  The team visited two communities within the country in order to provide medical and public health assistance.

The group was created as part of the larger international Global Brigades non-profit. The organization provides economic and health care to communities throughout the world, mainly through university student volunteers and service teams.  

Before they set out on their trip, the brigade raised funds to purchase various drugs to provide to patients in need while in Nicaragua.  

The students started their trip in Las Mangas of Matagalpa for three days.  During that time, they set up a system for patients to go through stations like triage, a medical examination, and then either a gynecological or dental examination. Beyond this, a station was set up for Nicaraguan children to learn about the importance of dental hygiene.  

In their time at the clinic, students estimated that they served approximately 1,000 community members. The group assisted doctors and observed patients as well as distributed proper medication.  

From here, the students traveled to El Naranjo for the public health section of the trip.  

Casey Kepczynski, a health sciences major, explained the work that the brigade completed while in El Naranjo.  

“Our brigade was split up into three groups to build three different homes,” Kepczynski said. “The families whose homes we were building were also hard at work participating and showing us what to do.”

The three groups laid down concrete flooring, built a bathroom and a septic tank.  

“I felt like I was actually making a difference by building a home for a family that would forever be grateful,” Kepczynski commented.

Students were able to work one-on-one with Nicaraguan people throughout the trip from the medical clinic to the public health work.  

“As well as being a medical brigade and bringing help to people physically, I believe that we were able to bring hope and compassion,” student volunteer and nursing major Nicole Weber said.  

The trip gave students the opportunity to do real world work for their respective fields of study while giving back to those in need.  A group leader, translators and the Nicaraguan doctors assisted in breaking down language barriers to make the trip as personal as possible.  

“As an Oakland student, I am very proud to say that Oakland University is so positively represented in Nicaragua and that 55 students were willing to donate their time and resources to the amazing people of Nicaragua,” Weber said.  

Kepczynski reflected on the trip with similar feelings of pride and gratitude.  

“I hope my career one day will give me that same fulfillment,” she said. “I encourage any Oakland student to take the opportunity if they’re able to, even if they’re not going into health care.”

For more information on Global Brigades or how you can get involved, visit the Global Brigades – Medical page on GrizzOrgs or globalbrigades.org.